Jamar Mackey, Virginia Beach Man Wrongfully Detained By Maskless Cops, Tests Positive For COVID-19
Mackey was publicly arrested in front of his children and fiancée while eating at Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mall.
January 02, 2021 at 5:06 pm
As Blavity previously reported, Mackey was publicly arrested in front of his children and fiancée while eating at Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mall on Dec. 19. The incident, captured on camera, showed an officer handcuffing the father in front of his 13-year-old son and newborn child because police were looking for a credit card thief with whom Mackey's description allegedly matched. A few minutes after handcuffing the 32-year-old and taking him outside, the officers realized that the real culprit had already been arrested.
"I sincerely apologize. It was a complete misunderstanding," the sergeant told Mackey after realizing the mistake, according to the video.
The 32-year-old, who has been experiencing mild symptoms, learned of his positive result on Christmas Eve, according to his attorney, Don Scott. Mackey said he doesn't know for sure how he contracted the coronavirus in the days after the police interaction, but Scott suspects that the Dec. 19 incident may have been a factor.
“He was healthy before this, and he and his family have been very careful,” Scott said. “His mask was down at the time because he was eating. The officers never gave him a chance to pull it back up and they weren’t wearing masks.”
Wavy News reporter, Regina Mobley shared a photo of Mackey on Twitter with an update on his family's health. The Hampton Roads, Virginia journalist also confirmed that the Mackey family believes he contracted the virus during the police interaction.
.@JamarMackey, wrongfully detained by @VBPD at Lynnhaven Mall continues to recover from #COVID19. Loved ones say he caught it during his interactions with maskless officers. Family members are symptom free. @VBPD: no comment on whether officers have #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/3imWCBYvp2
— Regina Mobley (@ReginaMobley757) January 2, 2021
Police have declined to comment on whether or not the officers in the video were tested for the coronavirus, citing privacy laws that prevent them from releasing an employee’s medical information.
In the video captured by Mackey's fiancée, Shantel Covil, a white officer mentions a suspect in a black truck and detains the father after saying, "I want to talk to you, OK?"
"Y'all got the wrong person. We don't even have a black truck," Covil told the officer as the incident unfolded.
The maskless sergeant then paraded the man through the crowded food court and took him outside, where he joined other police officers who were also not wearing masks, according to ABC News.
"You're going to do this in public, make me walk outside in front of my family," Mackey asked the officer.
Virginia Beach police chief Paul Neudigate apologized for the wrongful detainment, saying the officers violated department policy by not wearing masks and that an investigation is underway to determine if they committed other infractions.
Neudigate had also praised the officers for arresting Mackey in a "calm" manner.
“Certainly, anyone would be upset about being detained for something they didn’t do. While the video shows the officer stayed calm and respectful throughout the brief encounter, we must ensure the situation merits the response. We are gathering all the facts to evaluate the incident so we can address the concerns people have raised," the police chief said.
The Virginia Beach NAACP criticized the officers for being careless during a pandemic and for showing racial bias.
"In the midst of a global pandemic, Virginia Beach police officers — without masks or personal protective equipment — mistakenly detained a Black man who was spending quality time with his family," the organization said in a statement. "The NAACP will not rest until every Black citizen in Virginia Beach can shop, dine, and travel without being racially profiled by our city’s police officers."
Covil said Mackey is now quarantining at his home, with mild symptoms including a "low-grade fever, a cough, and a sore throat." She also said she and the two children have been tested and they're waiting for the results.
According to ABC News, Scott said the family is looking into legal action against the police department.
"Everybody in this region knows this is how you get treated. This is how Black males get treated in Virginia Beach," the attorney said.